FRISCO - Read between the lines, and you can catch a mea culpa of sorts from Dallas coach Mike McCarthy regarding the Cowboys’ 2020 usage - or misusage - of defensive end Randy Gregory.
“When I look at Randy’s personal evaluation (last season) I gave him two arrows pointing up,” McCarthy said on the eve of this week’s minicamp at The Star. “If you recall … we tried to integrate him (following his six-game suspension) and we were just trying to be smart.
“Then you get at the end of the season and you look at his production and you’re like, ‘Well, Coach, why the hell didn’t he play more?’
“Yeah, I get it.”
The hope going forward?
Yeah … that this year, McCarthy and staff actually “get it.”
The facts from 2020? Gregory was as explosive and productive as any member of this defense, participating in 10 games ...
And starting none of them.
When I list the reasons why defensive coaches Mike Nolan (coordinator) and Jim Tomsula (D-line) lost their jobs, the mismanagement of Gregory is high on the list.
And McCarthy was their supervisor.
That is going to change in 2021. Randy Gregory, McCarthy is trying to suggest, is a starter.
Midway through last season, I asked team owner Jerry Jones about whether he was disappointed that the staff hadn't found a way to fully utilize the 28-year-old Gregory, who by year's end managed 3.5 sacks, 16 QB pressures and three forced fumbles, all while playing 40 snaps in a game just twice.
Jerry answered in the affirmative.
Jerry's answer was ominous.
But Jerry's answer was also promising.
Because the patience that Dallas has shown Gregory - who has been suspended four times since he turned pro in 2015 - is about to pay off.
McCarthy's coaching staff's evaluation of Dorance Armstrong and others being more deserving of playing time than Gregory was ridiculous. It - part of the many reasons this was an historically bad defense last year - helped get people fired. Armstrong is still here and Tarell Basham has arrived, too.
But Gregory is being termed the “premium” guy.
Is new coordinator Dan Quinn the reason Gregory has his best chance to be book-ended with DeMarcus Lawrence? Contrary to some thoughts, no.
Mike McCarthy - and his subtle admission that this staff goofed last year in managing “premium” Randy Gregory - is the reason.
McCarthy said recently that he can see Gregory, who is entering a contract year, becoming a “premier, primary player” this year. “He looks very comfortable out there,” McCarthy said. “He just continued to rise with every opportunity that he had.”
And now? Maybe no coaches to block those opportunities for a “premium, primary” player who needs to start.
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